After a match of the year contender that left both men bloodied and broken, Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Bálor did it again at NXT’s New Year’s Evil show on Jan. 6. In fact, tonight’s main event, commercial-free showdown was NXT champion Bálor’s first match since their TakeOver 31 encounter back in October.
In round two, the challenger looked to test Finn’s broken jaw, both with strikes to the Irishman’s face and by constricting Bálor’s breathing with holds. And when the champ blocked a head kick with arm, it gave the Undisputed ERA member something else to target.
Jaws remained the story, though. When O’Reilly bit the middle rope to break a submission from the champ, Finn kicked the rope and his face. A trainer checked on Kyle’s mouth, and he insisted on fighting on, but continued to sell his jaw as action continued.
Heading into the rematch, Bálor vowed to make O’Reilly suffer. The jaw injury made it easy to do. Even with a wounded wing, Finn was able to inflict a lot of punishment, but it also gave KOR something to persevere through and fight back.
Big shots were mixed with submission attempts. The champ was bloodied in a sequence that included a superplex, a brainbuster and an armbar.
"You want to be a champion here at #WWENXT? THIS is what you have to put yourself through!" - @StuBennett @FinnBalor vs. @KORCombat for the #NXTChampionship is as INCREDIBLE and HARD-HITTING as ever!#NXTNYE pic.twitter.com/KeuHy6gmCa— WWE (@WWE) January 7, 2021
Finally, it was another callback to their first encounter that signaled the end. O’Reilly charged into a liver kick, just like the one he described as one of the most painful experiences of his life during their first encounter. That gave Finn yet another thing to target, and a crossface stretch that inflicted pain on both O’Reilly’s injured body parts forced him to tap out.
Adam Cole, Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish all returned to check on their teammate, but Kyle could only stare off in the distance. The Prince, meanwhile, had done what he promised to do - keep his belt, and make his rival hurt.
Their TakeOver 31 match was probably slightly better, but in my book this was definitely a worthy follow-up. Let us know if you agree below, and catch-up on anything you missed from New Year’s Evil in our live blog here.
UPDATE: These two sure do like to kick each other’s asses, huh? WWE announced they’re both on the way to the hospital again...
We’ll keep you posted on their prognoses.